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Malaysia needs a Kemal Ataturk

It is most gratifying to read professor Dr Mohamad Tajuddin's letter. Gratifying because there are still good Malay Muslim religious scholars who are prepared to defend the gentle face of Islam despite the vehement onslaught of some Islamist mufti who virtually crucified Teo Nie Ching for being present in a mosque.

How did Harussani the controversial Perak mufti conclude that Teo's presence in a mosque was haram in accordance with Islamic precepts? If a mufti cannot even give the correct interpretation of a religious norm then its about time we start questioning his credentials on his position as a mufti.

I salute Mohamad’s brave stand on this issue because he went on further to rebuke some Malays by saying that 'my fellow Muslims who are Malays would stoop so low to policising Islam in this manner that put all Muslims in a bad light'.

Instead of showing leadership at a time when partisan politics should be discarded in search for the truth, our leaders have joined in the fray to criticise Teo's presence in mosques in order to use Islam for their political mileage. This only portrays the quality of leadership (we have) who would not hesitate to exact and compromise on their principles in order to obtain support from the Malay community notwithstanding whether the religious interpretation are correct or not.

What Malaysia needs today is someone in the mould of the great Turkish statesman, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He was a revolutionary statesman, writer and founder of the Republic of Turkey as well as its first president.

His transformation of the Ottoman empire was awe-inspiring and till today, after almost a century his legacy, is still fiercely protected by the military. What distinguished his transformation from many other Muslim countries was his ensuring that 'Islamic law was clearly separated from the secular law of the nation and confined to its religious domain'.

Can Malaysia and its leaders follow in the footsteps of this great Muslim statesman? The lack of charismatic leaders in our midst sadly depicts our nation's frailty in any such transformation.

Instead, we have leaders who are unprincipled and dishonourable who don the robes of piousness and give religious interpretations merely to suit their own political agendas.

It is thus fitting to quote Prof Mohamad's words that 'Islam is being racialised or 'Melayu-nised' to rally support for private agendas of political leaders with questionable repute’. Those words, I believe were spoken sincerely by a good Muslim without fear or favour.